Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hogwarts lite

Yesterday, we had the story of a Louisiana charter school whose textbooks use the Loch Ness Monster to "disprove evolution."  Today, we have a school in Montana that claims to be the world's "first real school of wizardry."  (Sources here and here.)

The Grey School of Wizardry, run by warlock-and-witch team Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, is based in Helena, Montana.  Oberon states that the school's classes are mostly conducted online at the moment, with periodic weekend and summer workshops, but he currently has a bid in on a "castle in Helena" where he hopes to have a "real, complete educational facility, just like Hogwarts."

Now, lest you think that this is just a fanciful twist on a magnet school -- sorting kids into "houses," and throwing in a few magical trappings, but otherwise providing a conventional curriculum -- I hasten to correct your misapprehension.  These people are serious.  Let's look at a blurb on the Grey School of Wizardry's website, describing The Grimoire, one of the textbooks they use:
This essential handbook contains everything an aspiring Wizard needs to know. It is illustrated with original art by Oberon and friends, as well as hundreds of woodcuts from medieval manuscripts and alchemical texts, charts, tables, and diagrams. It also contains biographies of famous Wizards in history and legend; detailed descriptions of magickal tools and regalia (with full instructions for making them); spells and workings for a better life; rites and rituals for special occasions; a bestiary of mythical creatures; systems of divination; the Laws of Magick; myths and stories of gods and heroes; lore and legends of the stars and constellations; and instructions for performing amazing illusions, special effects, and many other wonders of the magickal multiverse.
I'd often made the comment that the zealots who want biology teachers to "present all sides of the controversy" over evolution never want chemistry teachers to do the same regarding alchemy.

I stand corrected.

On the site, which you should definitely peruse when you have time and a few brain cells that you don't mind losing, you will find:
  • A full description of the program, including majors and minors and so on.  How'd you like to put that on your college application -- "in my school, I majored in Charms with a minor in Potions."  I bet that colleges would just knock themselves out to give you a scholarship!
  • A complete faculty list, which includes people named "Alferian MacLir," "Willow Silverhawk," and "Rainbow Stonetalker."
  • A description of the Grey Council, which governs the school.  The Grey Council is a "legendary Council of Wizards, Mages & Sages which has been a recurring theme through many tales and histories of Magick and Wizardry."  So don't even let it cross your mind that these are a bunch of delusional posers who think they can do magic.  Excuse me, magick.
  • The Colors of Magick -- describing the properties of each color.  My favorite one was "clear" -- "clear is the color of numbers and mathemagicks, reflecting the transparency with which all creation is suffused with magickal formulae."  Whatever the hell that means.
So, if you have a child between the ages of 11 and 18, you can sign him/her up for classes, and soon, you might even be able to pack him/her on a train (boarding at platform 9-3/4, of course) for Helena!  What an opportunity for a quality education!

Okay, so maybe not.  Maybe these people are just as wrong-headed as our fundamentalist chums from yesterday, who think that teaching kids mythology is the best way to educate them about how the world really works.  It's easy to laugh at the presumptive witches and wizards of the Grey School of Wizardry, especially given that they (unlike the fundamentalists) aren't trying to foist their delusions on the rest of the country.  But if these people somehow get a charter, and turn the Grey School into an actual, accredited educational facility -- I think I'm just going to sit down and have a nice long cry.

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